DC's New Pot Penalty: $25 Ticket

But penalties on federal land are harsher
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2014 12:57 AM CDT
DC's New Pot Penalty: $25 Ticket
Selling marijuana or using it in public is still a crime in DC.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Possessing a joint on the street outside the White House or in most other places in Washington, DC, is now punishable by a $25 ticket under a marijuana law that went into effect yesterday. The new law, one of the nation's loosest, treats possession of under an ounce of marijuana as an offense like littering. Smoking pot in public is still banned, but the city's police officers have been trained in new guidelines that say they can no longer take action upon merely smelling marijuana, and can no longer demand identification from people found in possession of small amounts of the drug, which the city legalized for medicinal use in 2010, reports the Washington Post.

But tokers still need to be careful: There's a lot of federal land in the city, and since marijuana possession is still a federal crime, people caught with pot on federal land can face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, the New York Times finds. The law went into effect at the end of a period during which it could have been overruled by Congress—but when a House Republican from Maryland added language to a bill that would have removed funding for the law, President Obama threatened to veto it, Roll Call reports. The administration "strongly opposes" attempts to prevent DC "from using its own local funds to carry out locally passed marijuana policies," the White House said in a statement. (More marijuana stories.)

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